It would appear that Ouija boards are fast becoming one of the “coolest” and “must-have” Christmas gifts of 2014, but the church has fiercely criticized the trend calling it “absolutely appalling,” and strongly warned people to “not let this darkness” into their lives.
Google reports that sales of Ouija boards are up to 300 percent, and are flying off the shelves quicker than you can say, “Oh no, it looks like poltergeist activity’.
The reason for the resurgence in sales is a new low-budget horror film called Ouija.
The film, which tells the time-honored story of kids meddling with powers they do not comprehend and then wondering why all of a sudden everything’s gone to hell, was slated by the critics, but cinema-going teens adored it.
Cue the current demand for Ouija boards. Interestingly, toy manufacturer Hasbro, who are one of the companies currently selling Ouija boards to ghost-seeking teens, helped finance the making of Ouija. Vested interests perchance?
Although Ouija boards are viewed as a harmless parlor trick by some, many, including the church, regard them as dangerous tools which can trigger psychological harm — or something even more sinister.
Church of England vicar Peter Irwin-Clark is one such man, and told the Daily Mail that he has witnessed the dark side of the Ouija, and believes it is hugely responsible to market and sell the controversial devices as toys.
“It is absolutely appalling. I would very strongly advise parents not to buy Ouija boards for children. It’s like opening a shutter in one’s soul and letting in the supernatural. There are spiritual realities out there and they can be very negative.
“I would hugely recommend people not to have anything to do with the occult. People find they are having strange dreams, strange things happening to them, even poltergeist activity.”
Ouija boards were invented in America at the height of the spiritualist craze of the 19th century, where seances and mediums seemed to be awaiting around every corner to help one contact the dead.
They enjoyed a brief resurgence in the 1960s, even outstripping sales of other well-loved board games such as Monopoly, and kids who didn’t have the money to buy a mass produced Ouija board would make their own.
Yet in 1973, the film The Exorcist, based on a true story of a teenager who became obsessed after playing with a Ouija board for long periods, seemed to change the public’s perception of the devices, according to Christina Oakley Harrington, proprietor of Treadwell’s, a London bookshop specializing in the esoteric and the occult.
“The horror film shifted the focus of Ouija to the idea of lost or malevolent spirits. That was where the culture of danger came in. Once you have something said to be a way of consorting with malevolent spirits, you get the Church involved.”
Catholic Priest and former exorcist Anthony Hayne was only too aware of the dangers of teenagers who “had been using Ouija boards and had let the darkness into their lives”.
The late Reverend Tom Willis, who was also a practicing exorcist, was also concerned about the dangers inherent in the Ouija board.
“A lot more people are dabbling in the occult and having seances, and that is causing a lot of problems. In the Sixties, the Ouija board caused so many problems — people ending up in mental hospitals because of what they have experienced.
“An unseen force spelling out messages may have sinister motives. It may pretend to be your grandmother you’re in contact with, but it might be something more evil that suddenly gives you some bad advice.”
Yet skeptics believe that when the planchette on a Ouija board moves to spell out messages, it is powered entirely by the subconscious of the users involved, and not spirits from beyond the grave.
Canadian paranormal investigator James Randi once tested this theory by blindfolding people taking part in a Ouija board session. The result? The chatty spirits seemed to be silenced when the users couldn’t see the board’s letters, and when they did speak, they spoke nothing but gibberish.